Populism, a necessary challenge for democracy?

The research group aims to understand how socio-political practices and processes work in interaction and changes.

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Name of research group

Populism, anti-gender and democracy





The re-emergence of populist mobilisation poses a major challenge for democracy, gender equality, environment as well as to public health.

Hande Eslen-Ziya , professor

About the research group

En mann med lue holder en åpen, brennende avis.

The research group on populism, anti-gender and democracy at the University of Stavanger was established in 2020. We gather researchers across disciplines to study and conduct research on both right-wing and left-wing populism, anti-gender developments and its effects on democracy.

The re-emergence of populist mobilization has had significant implications and pose a major challenge to political communities, as well as political science, sociology, media and gender studies. To meet these challenges, we draw expertise from these fields of research. Building on the conceptual and methodological innovations developed in the studies of populist discourses, we further the interdisciplinary approach to populism developed by the so-called ‘Essex School’, but also combine other philosophical and cultural theoretical perspectives.

Our goal is to build a point of contact for the interdisciplinary and international intellectual community for academics working on populism, to facilitate innovative research as well as to seek external funding for collaborative research projects on populist politics. The research group hosts the Fringe Talk Series to draw on recent debates on populism, polarisation and democracy.

The aims of the group are to:

  • Create a space for discussions on populism;
  • Establish a university-wide link to support interdisciplinary research on populism;
  • Organize seminars and working groups that would bring together researchers working on populism and anti-gender developments across the globe;
  • Build an international cooperation with other universities, with research centres to conduct collaborative research activities and disseminate research-based knowledge to the public, and with civil society organizations.

Fringe talk series

The research group hosts digital seminars called the "Fringe Talk Series", where Norwegian and international researchers are invited to lectures and discussions based on recent and ongoing research and debates on populism, polarisation and democracy. The newest talks are on top.

Remember to be Jewish: Religious Populism in Israel

This talk with Guy Ben-Porat on September 28th 1 pm will explore the relation between religion and populism in Israel.

Jewish identity has been an important marker of citizenship and belonging in Israel since its inception. The complex relation between religion and populism in Israel is demonstrated by the development of two populist parties; the first one we describe as “inclusive” (Shas) and the second one as “exclusionary” (Likud). The study of the two parties, analyses the role of religious identities, tropes, and symbols in boundary- making and political strategies. In the Israeli case religion functions, both as the positive content of the political community (since the ethnos -the Jewish people - is conflated with the demos) and the demands for inclusion; and as the marker of a threat (non-Jewish citizens, asylum seekers and allegedly disloyal secular elites).

Guy Ben-Porat is a professor at the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University. He is the author of Between State and Synagogue, the Secularization of Contemporary Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 686 9371 2980

Password: 211104

The talk is held in collaboration with the network of researchers in Sociology&Communication, Department of Letters, Philosophy, Communication (University of Bergamo).

Eco-anxiety and ecological grief: Critical psychologies & the climate crisis

Matt Adams is Principal Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Brighton, UK. In this talk, he will consider the role of psychological discourses to date in making sense of the climate crisis and how we can and should respond. He will talk about the importance of recognising affective and emotional responses to climate crisis, such as ecological grief, eco-anxiety and Anthropocene horror, and the problem of pseudo medicalising these responses. He will also share some key themes from a growing body of work bridging a recognition of difficult emotional responses to the climate crisis with an emphasis on place, community, power and discourse.

A mans arm with shirt and suit watering plants.
Illustration by: Ole Andre Hauge

Adams’ research focus is interdisciplinary and covers critical and creative approaches to the climate crisis,especially how psychological and sociological discourses are translated into programmes for intervention and calls for action; and the relational dynamics of human-animal and human-nature entanglements in the novel context of the Anthropocene imaginary. 

His most recent work tackles the idea of the Anthropocene and related human and more-than-human worlds. His most recent book is Anthropocene Psychology: Being Human in a More-Than-Human World (2020, Routledge).

This event is FREE and open to the public on April 13th, 2021 @11:00 AM Oslo (GMT +2) https://stavanger.zoom.us/ Meeting ID: 696 3350 3084 Password: 535677.

Understanding the Far- and Populist Right-Wing Continuum: the Case of Norway

Sindre Bangstad is an awarded anthropologist. In this talk, he will argue that populist right-wing 'calculated ambiguity' towards the far- and racist right has long been a central part of populist right-wing strategies in Norway and beyond.

Three norwegian flags seen from below. Blocking the sun.

Bangstad works as a Research Professor at Institute for Church, Religion and Worldview Research. He has a backround in ethnographic fieldwork on Muslims in Cape Town, South Africa and Oslo, Norway.

He is the author of nine books and edited volumes, including 'Anders Breivik And the Rise of Islamophobia' (2014), Bangstad was awarded the 2019 Anthropology in The Media Awards (AIME) from the American Anthropological Association (AAA) for his long-standing work on disseminating anthropological knowledge and insights through the public media in Norway and internationally.

This event is FREE and open to the public on April 20, 2021 @10:30 AM Oslo (GMT +2) https://stavanger.zoom.us/ Meeting ID: 696 3350 3084 Password: 535677.

Are populists a threat to climate action?

Kacper Szulecki specializes in European energy policy, securitization and dissent. In this talk, he questions if populists are a threat to climate action or not.

Kacper Szulecki is a Senior Researcher at the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo and a Research Professor at the Center for Energy Research of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).

He is a political sociologist (PhD 2012, University of Konstanz), specializing in European energy policy, securitization and dissent. He has recently published a series of papers on conspiracies, disinformation and populist rhetoric around the energy transition.

This event is FREE and open to the public on Feb 24, 2021 @10:30 AM Oslo (GMT +2) https://stavanger.zoom.us Meeting ID: 696 3350 3084 Password: 535677.

A discussion of political masculinity, with Ozan Soybakis

This talk revolves around “Milli ve Manevî” (National and Religious) as a populist principle in Turkey, and is a discussion on political masculinity and gender politics.

Tungt bevæpnet politi i Paris.

Ozan Soybakis is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS-Paris) with a thesis entitled "Conservative Political Masculinity: A Study on Islamic Populism and Virility in Turkey." He specializes in gender and Turkish studies, especially in masculinities, with an anthropological perspective on material culture, emotions, and populisms. He is also broadly interested in modern art history, post-colonial and queer studies. He holds a sociology BA degree from Galatasaray University (Istanbul) and a MA degree in gender studies at EHESS. He worked as a teaching assistant in the sociology department at the University of Rouen and University of Evry Paris-Saclay. 

He is currently working on doctoral research that aims to understand the links between the politicization of Erdoganist Muslim men, self-identified as “conservative” and right-wing, and the primary role of the populism of AKP (the ruling political party in Turkey since 2002) in the establishment of the gender regime, mainly oriented with Islamic and nationalist conservative ideas. Mainly for this talk, his paper focuses on a cultural form of populism, called "Milli ve manevî," that overlays the three main fields of understanding of the construction and performance of conservative political masculinities: symbolic and dualistic wars among Kemalist iconography; virility as a new way of "good manner" of political expression and legitimacy; and finally, self-identification as a conservative man. 

Date of the talk: February 16th, 2021, at 11.00 am

Combating scepticism toward a vaccine for Covid-19, with Matt Motta

In his research, Matt Motta aims to assess the consequences of misinformation about politics, public health, and the environment.

koronavirus illustrasjon

Matt Motta is an assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University (American Politics & Quantitative Methods). His research aims to assess the prevalence, correlates, and policy consequences of misinformation about politics, public health, and the environment. He is also broadly interested in devising communication strategies aimed at reducing misinformation acceptance.

He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2018, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. He is also a former science communication postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (University of Pennsylvania) & Cultural Cognition Project (Yale Law School).

Date of the talk: November 23rd, 2020

Hijack or release? with Alberta Giorgi

The talk tackled the heuristic limits of the frame of instrumentalization of religion, for discussing the entanglements of populism, religion, and gender.

Glassmaleri fra en kirke i Luxembourg.

Alberta Giorgi is Assistant professor at the University of Bergamo, and associate researcher of the research groups GSRL (Paris) and CRAFT (Turin), and the research centre CES (Coimbra). She participated to Grassrootsmobilise ERC-funded project. Alberta is vice-chair of the research network Political Sociology (European Sociological Association), co-convenor of the standing group Political Participation and Social Movements (Italian Association of Political Science), and elected board member of the research network on Religion (Italian Association of Sociology). She works on the intersections of religion and politics – namely secularism, and gender and religion.

Date of the talk: October 19th, 2020

The research group

Professor i sosiologi
Elise Ottesen-Jensen 319
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
Førsteamanuensis i statsvitenskap
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
Førsteamanuensis i statsvitenskap
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
professor i kjønnsforskning
Faculty of Social Sciences
Professor i kjønnsforskning
Faculty of Social Sciences
Førsteamanuensis i statsvitenskap/sosiologi
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
Universitetslektor i kunst og kulturfag
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
Stipendiat i medievitenskap
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
Førsteamanuensis i statsvitenskap
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
Postdoktor i Gender Studies
Centre for gender studies
Faculty of Social Sciences
Stipendiat i kriseledelse og (u)ansvarlig ledelse
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Media and Social Sciences
International partners

Professor Cheryl Potgieter (Durban University of Technology, South Africa)